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tv   Worldfocus  WHUT  January 14, 2010 7:00pm-7:30pm EST

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tonight on "worldfocus." >> tonight our in depth look at haiti in ruins. as aid from around the world begins to arrive, president obama tells the people of haiti you will not be forsak. an estimated three million haitians may need lp. the heartbreaking story of a night on the streets. the living, the dead and those who are about to enter a world in turmoil. haiti's history, how decades of political instability led to hardship and suffering. and well before the earthquake, haiti's environment at disaster, the causes and consequences of cutting down the forests. from the different perspectives of analysts and
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reporters around the world, this is "worldfocus." major support has been provided by rosalind p. walter and the peter g. peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future. and additional funding is provided by the following supporters -- good evening, welcome to "worldfocus." i'm daljit dhaliwal in new york. the magnitude of the loss of life and devastation from haiti's earthquake became more apparent today as the red cross estimated that 45 to 50,000 people were kied, and a growing international rescue effort struggled to save the injured from dying. eight organizations say as many as three million people, that is one third of haiti's population may be in need of help, injured or left homeless from the quake.
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and help is arriving from all over the world, food and water, heavy equipment, medical supplies. the airport in port-au-prince described as a humanitarian hub. president barack obama pledged $100 million today and he told the people of haiti they will not be forgotten. foreign rescue teams joined the search for people still trapped and possibly alive in the rubble, of tens of thousands of buildings. they're numbers are known and their time is running out. a short time ago, we spoke with laura blank of the relief group world vision about what she saw in port-au-prince. >> as you come upon a collapsed building, there were men and women clamoring on top of it, with any kind of tool they could find, to try to breakthrough the concrete, breakthrough the metal and get out people who are still trapped in the buildings. there's a lot to be done, we have the resources, we need to get out there and start being
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able to distribute some of the supplies. >> tonight the world is focused on haiti in ruins. almost every major news organization has sent reporters there. and tonight we bring you the best of that coverage. we start with paul davis of itn who captured the unimaginable the frustration and the anger of haiti after the quake. >> reporter: even now it is still hard to take in the scale of the devastation and loss of life unleashed on this city on tuesday night. its people, the survivors appear traumatized. too frighten to move to the buildings still standing. waiting in the streets for help that in most cases has yet to arrive. in the despair, there's also anger. >> there is no hospital, no electricity, nothing. no food, no water, nothing. there's too many people dying. >> reporter: thousands have
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gathered in areas of open space. this is where they slept last night. among them incredibly are people carrying the injured, desperately in need of treatment yet so long after the earthquake, they've yet to receive it. the international help can't get here too soon. for thousands, it's already too late. there are bodies everywhere, left in the roadside while the day's population struggles to care for the living. in the devastation, the hunt that buried survivors continues. most of it carried out with bare hands. >> that was my father's house. we lose it. my mother -- >> now, now, we have somebody here. >> there's some person who will help us out. we don't have a lot -- >> reporter: it's going to take a lot of equipment that haiti doesn't ve to search through destruction like this. an earthquake that did this to
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the presidential palace, completely flattened large areas of slum dwellings. america's special ambassador to haiti made an emotional promise to help. >> i have been working in heartbreaking circumstances like this for three decades now. what we need now is food, water, supplies for first aid and shelter. we have got to find out who's alive. we have to care for the people who are dead. d to try to preserve them so their loved ones can identify them. >> reporter: the first international aid is now starting to arrive in port-au-prince. where the number of bodies to be recovered and survivors to be helped is still thought to run into tens of thousands. paul davis, itv news. now, let's get another view from a reporter on the ground in haiti. an extraordinary look at those who have survived and those who did not.
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their world's now merged. it comes to us through the eyes of sebastian walker of al jazeera english who walked last night through the streets of the capital of port-au-prince. and saw things that are hard to take, but impossible to ignore. >> reporter: as we drove through the streets, evidence of the damage the quake caused was everywhere. building after building, body after body. men, women and especially children. this is the second dark night the people of port-au-prince have had to suffer. everybody here is sleeping outdoors after what's happened, they're understandably terrified of sleeping inside. here they're singing religious songs to get them through the night. on one side of the road people huddled to get some rest.
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on the opposite side of the street, just a few feet away, the bodies of their loved ones. >> they're the little ones. >> reporter: no one here has much food or water. we saw little evidence of international help for these people on our journey through the very center of the city, the area that's been worst hit. we passed no rescue operations more than 24 hours after the earthquake struck. >> this is where people have come to sleep. they say they're afraid to go back into their houses, they think something else may happen. in one corner of the square, there's a woman having a baby. it's uncertain just how bad the first days of her new child's life could get. sebastian walker, al jazeera, port-au-prince, haiti.
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joining us now for more on the relief effort is a man who coordinating such efforts. michael coker, vice president of the international program for the international rescue committee. thank you very much for joining us on the program. we just saw a report showing haiti last night with no aid in sight. some aid did begin to arrive in haiti today. how woulresponse? >> well, i think it's obviously in its beginning stages. you have an overwhelmed airport that's at capacity, and then by land from the dominican republic. but i think we are seeing the aid effort is ramping up. surely, today, tomorrow anin the coming days it will ramp up substantially. >> will most people or some people get some aid today? >> well, it's a capital city of three million. i don't know that we can say
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most people will get aid today, but it's begun. there are a number of things that have to happen concurrently. the search and rescue effort that's underway now requires heavy equipment, rescue teams, search dogs and so on. and i think obviously, the number one priority is to save as many lives as possible as people search through buildings. but at the same time you have to make sure that clean water is provided. sanitation facilities, hygiene. and health services. the risk for example of contaminated water, we have to remember, port-au-prince had problems with clean water before. it's been exacerbated tremendously now. a number of things have to happen all at once. >> those types of things, a type of aid that's needed immediately in the next few days, the next week or so? >> absolutely. i think a tremendous emphasis has to be placed on clean water. and food distribution seems to be needed as well. >> tala little bit about the obstacles to getting the relief
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to the people who need it? >> sure. i think the infrastructure. you have a number of roads that have been zroidestroyed or badl damaged. i think you're going to have a lot of traffic on these roads, and you have aid vehicles as well. as i said there, are only so many access points from the port, the airport, the dominican republic. i think you have a choke factor that's possible. the density of traffic and the amount of material going in. i think that's going to get sorted out pretty quickly. it's not unusual, we saw that in other examples of catastrophes of such scales around the world. i'm optimistic that in the first few days a lot of logistical issues wl be sorted out. i think another thing here, if i can add, it's mainly -- the damage is mainly confined, as i understand it, to a single urban
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area. a large one, certainly, three million people. unlike the tsunami where there were hundreds of square miles covered and difficult to access places. i believe most of the needs are going to be in port-au-prince and its immediate environments. >> briefly, what about the haitian authorities. are the officials able to coordinate the effort? >> i think it's beginning. i think there's going to have to be concerted eort with the united nations, the haitian government and the relief communities in the beginning. >> thank you for joining us. >> thank you. haiti's history is hardship and turmoil that goes back many years and was so cenries ago as you'll hear from our next reporter, abby lewis of al jazeera, english. the key role of the united states for better or worse in haiti's recent history. >> reporter: unlike the earthquake that's focused international attention on it
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once again, haiti's fate has not been inevitable. once the richest colony in the americas, a slave revolt against the french occupation occurred, haiti was established as the first black republic. under threat of invasion, the country agreed to compensate france for loss of property. a debt that took 120 years to repay. and launched a cycle of debt, dependence and instability. after almost three decades of dictatorship, former catholic priest jean bertrand aristide was elected. just nine months later, he was ousted in a military coop. death squads rampaged through the country. terrorizing aristide supporters. in 1994, then president bill clinton and a fleet of u.s. marines, backed aristide's
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return to power, but not before he agreed to a program of economic adjustment, monitored by the international monetary fund and world bank, marked by downsizing, privatization and deregulation. tariffs on foreign rights for example, were slashed from 50% to 3% weeks. and subsidized imports from the united states flooded the country forcing many of haiti's farmers out of business, off their farms and into urban slums. aristide's second term as president ended in him being ousted again. support for him still runs high in haiti's poor neighborhoods. the united states sent troops, and the united nations authorized a peacekeeping mission to pacify the gangs and some say the aristide supporters in the country's slum. the u.n. mission has been controversial in haiti. accused of killing indiscriminately and eliciting fear from the people it's
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supposed to be protecting. since 2006, the country has continued to struggle for stability. in 2008, four hurricanes killed at least 800 people and caused more than a billion dollars in damage. only last year did international financial institutions and the united states finally cancel haiti's $1.2 billion debt. the u.n. has appointed clinton its special envoy for haiti. as international aid begins flowing into the country once again in response to this most recent crisis, the question remains -- can a former u.s. president and so much foreign aid really deal with the aftershocks of haiti's history? avi lewis, al jazeera. >> for more on haiti's history of hardship, we're joined by our editorial consultant, peter eisner, a long-time correspondent who specializes in latin america and the caribbean. good to see you, peter. looking at the entrenched problems that haiti already faced, what do you see as some
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of the main challenges for organizing a relief effort there? >> well, we're really starting at ground zero here. we have to get into some basics. security, basic housing, water, sanitation. these are issues that are going to be immediate and i think that the united states going to have to take the lead in basically making this country start to work immediately. it's going to be a very very tough start and we're not going to get out of the woods for a long time. >> what kind of efforts do you think the united states can make, should make in terms of the longer term picture here, rebuilding haiti from the ground up in many respects? >> well, this is the opportunity to move beyond -- after we get things locked down, and i really expect that u.s. armed forces are going to have to play a big role here. after all, the u.n. is in there
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now, but the brazilians are running the show, with a number of others. but they're overwhelmed. and the americans first are going to have to make things settle down. long term the united states has got to do what it's always had to do. it has to attack the deep, long-seeded problems of poverty. it has to work on infrastructure. transportation of every possible way, the united states is going to have to rebuild haiti and it is really the country that's going to be taking the lead here. >> peter, there are those that would say, hold on, the united states is already stretched thin overseas definitely, but also at home. why should it take a responsible role in haiti's recovery. let's bring in other organizations, let's leave it to the united nations? >> well, there are many reasons, certainly we do need international help. the united nations has to play a
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part. the organization of american states has to play a part. but the united states historically, economically and in terms of humanity has to play a big role here. you talk about a failed state, talk about the fears, the political fears, the concerns of the future for a failed state, so close to us, that alone means that the united states has to be involved. then if you just think about the fact that there are so many haitians in the united states. millions and so the ties between the united states and haiti are strong. and finally, of course, just in pure terms of humanity, this is a tragedy that's already existed, and now we've gotten to a level that is unbelievable and unprecedented. the united states has the opportunity to live up to its responsibility as a world leader in bringing haiti back. it must be done. >> all right, peter eisner, thank you very much for joining us from washington wag. >> my pleasure. >> and we would also like to hear what you think.
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our question tonight is what role should the united states play in rebuilding haiti? you can give us your opinion by going to the how you see it section of our website at let's take a look at some other news from around the world now, and first we begin in iran, where the funeral was held today for a scientist killed on tuesday in tehran. about 1,000 people attended the funeral for a physics professor who supported the opposition, and who died when a motorcycle rigged with a bomb exploded outside his home. eyewitnesss said about half of
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those at the funeral were opposition members. iran's semiofficial news agency said they chanted what it called deviant slogans. in pakistan, another missile attack from an unmanned u.s. drone targeted a former school where taliban leaders were said to be meeting. it took place in the north waziristan area. a dozen people were reported killed in the attack. intelligence officials and s that massoud survived the d attack. china gave its first official response today after google said it would stop censoring search results in china and threaten to shut down because of the attempts to break into the e-mail accounts of human rights activists. google's building in beijing has become a sort of shrine for those calling for greater freedom on the internet.
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if you listen to a foreign ministry spokesman that is not an issue. >> i just wanted to stress that china's internet is open. china's government promotes the development of the internet. we promote an environment adequate for a healthy development of the internet. >> china's people's daily newspaper warns that web companies must abine official called propaganda discipline. finally tonight, our signature story and a look at haiti, before this week's earthquake. yesterday we showed you the struggle to find food in a country where 80% of the population lives in poverty. tonight another consequence of that poverty, the broad impact on haiti's environment. in a story we first brought you early last year by "worldfocus" special correspondent benno schmidt, the focus was on the devastation of haiti's forests.
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>> reporter: one by one they fall. machete to the forrest floor, these trees will be recycled intocharcoal, furniture, building materials, books, even brooms. crafted by hemingway-like artisans who work for hours. the brooms sold for pennines. in haiti, not a scrap of wood is wasted. a practice that has laid waste to a once beautiful tropical nation. now home to an environmental catastrophe, according to experts. >> you can see things here that you may not see anywhere else in the world. >> the humanitarian coordinator in haiti has seen the most troubled environmental spots on et. but haiti's uniquely horrible. with only 2% of its trees remaining, and 36 tons of topsoil, trash and other debris washed into the caribbean each year. and all this environmental damage idoing great economic damage to the island nation.
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>> every year people become even poorer, despite the efforts from the international community, their own efforts. they slide further down. >> reporter: many say they have no choice. hacking down the trees is their only way to survive. even though they know it's killing haiti's environment. marsellis luis is typical that way. >> the land is mine, and i have no other means. >> the trees are burned into charcoal and used for cooking and to heat homes. in haiti, gas stoves are too expensive, and electricity a luxury. black charcoal is everywhere. sent into market to fuel family shacks, roadside snack bars and primitive restaurants. while millions create homes from trash, and where sewage and food mix freely, environmental concerns are the realm of the
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privileged, foreigners or workers. everyone else is trying to survive. george worley has watched the destruction of haiti's environment for decades, he says the haiti of today is far from the beautiful green island he remembers. >> it's a nightmare. it's a nightmare. >> is there anything left to save in haiti.or has it alreadyd killed and put to rest environmentally. >> we do have the people, and that's the challenge we have to work for right now. >> people cannot stand in the way of nature or stop mudslides that bury an entire community. no trees means those mudslides are nearly guaranteed when it rains here. and entire cities are vulnerable during hurricane season. nearly half a year after four storms levelled one of haiti's largest cities, people are still digging out as the u.n.
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coordinates relief efforts. the environmental damage extends to the sea as well. haiti's coral reefs and marine life, once some of the most beautiful anywhere, are devastated, pushing feeding fish away from fishermen. >> we do worry about getting disease, but we're resigned to it. what else can we do? >> this man can taste the difference in the fish they catch as conditions deteriorate. >> there are fish that eat copper, and when we catch them and eat them, we get sick. >> fishermen can spend up to seven hours each day working these filthy waters. and because the pollution is so bad, often times when they do pull up these huge nets, the only catch of the day is dead fish. haiti's prime minister tells "worldfocus," she wants to save what little is left here, but corruption and little money hurt her efforts.
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>> after two years i'm supposed to spend here, it's still the same. not that there will be miracles, but i think things have to be done. it's unbearable that people live under those conditions. >> conditions that have become a permanent way of life for millions living among trash, eating food not fit for animals, and finding it harder and harder to survive as the trees they depend on are now nearly gone. this is benno schmidt reporting for "worldfocus." that is "worldfocus" for this thursday, a reminder, there is a lot more news and perspective at while you're there, be sure to drop us a line about the program. thank you for joining us, we'll see you back here at the same time tomorrow. until then, good-bye.
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-- captions by vitac -- major support for "worldfocus" has been provided by rosalind p. walter and the peter g. peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addssing key economic challenges facing america's future. and additional funding is provided by the following supporters --
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